Personal, Reviews

You Know You Want To Know: A Guest Post

On occasion I realize how surprisingly important blogging has become to me. By no means am I a particularly prolific blogger, if you’re lucky, you get three posts a week from me, but I do care about the content I put out there and I’m grateful when I get any sort of response from people. In what constitutes my real world, my love of reading is actually considered a character flaw, so I’m happy to have found others who share that same undesirable trait. Recently Lori said some really wonderful things about me (if you’re curious you can read it here, she makes me sound far better than I actually am) that turned me into a puddle of sappy mush. However, it also made me realize that despite being the smallest of small blogs, I’m happy to have met you (‘you’ applies to everyone reading this). Now that I’ve gotten the sentimental part out of the way, I’ll share the reason behind it.

Julz (from JulzReads) is going on vacation and asked if I’d be willing to guest post on her blog – to which I said yes, of course, I’d be happy to. Really, I’m quite honored she asked. Those of you who have gotten to know me (for better or for worse) know that not only am I verbose on my own blog, I also suffer from the tendency to leave long comments on other blogs as well. This is my way of saying that I’ll try to keep this reasonable, but let’s not expect miracles.

Julz was looking for bloggers to share images of their personal libraries. Given I’m in the middle of a home renovation, I’m always looking for an excuse to take before and after photos. In the interest of honesty, I’ll give you a brief run down of the living conditions. At the end of 2010, I moved into a shit hole. Granted most of the shitty things are of the ‘first world problem’ nature. I had heat and water. Sometimes. My boiler didn’t always work, some of the windows were cracked and broken and all of them froze – on the inside – during the winter (cardboard windows are high class!). There’s also no form of cooling, this might be okay if I didn’t sleep in the equivalent of an attic in a cape style house. There was lead paint, pissed-on carpets, and, as the EPA tells me, unacceptably high levels of radon. There were infestations of flying ants and spiders and don’t get me started on the smell. Sometimes I think I’ve forgotten the power of that smell (hey Lynyrd Skynyrd) and then I’ll open a little used closet and gag. Have you ever seen Trainspotting? Because I have the bathroom from that movie (luckily it’s not the only bathroom, so right now I’m pretending it doesn’t exist). So it started as an arachnid-infested, dreary 1960’s hole in the wall. Now it’s spider free and the place I call home. You’ll get to see the inside of my bedroom. And more importantly, you’ll get to see some of the books I consider important enough to own. You know you want to know.

To see the full post, go here (it’s profanity free, though the language below is rather mild in comparison to the actual words used).

On the off chance you need more convincing, here are a few of the highlights:

Bedroom BeforeThe beginning, my bedroom. You might be thinking it’s not sooo bad. See those dark spots on the floor? That’s urine. The weird wood on the wall? That’s unfinished wood flooring that they glued AND nailed (because they didn’t ever want it falling off the walls). Did I mention that the house was infested with flying ants? I did, right? Did I mention that winged ants are termites? Because they are. Also, spiders congregated behind those boards in droves. The first time I turned down my sheets and spiders were in my bed I lost my shit. In my outrage I considered burning down the house (hey Talking Heads). I seriously revisited that notion when a spider nest hatched on my ceiling. Soon after the sheet incident, the room looked like this:

Bedroom During WestCarpet’s gone. I had the wood floors refinished and they do look nice. But I had them refinished in October – hello wood stain and polyurethane smell for months. I would’ve opened my windows except it was freezing and my windows were painted shut. The wood flooring didn’t come off of the walls until the spider incident in early January. And it looked like the picture above for a month. Bedroom During EastThis is the opposite side of the room. It felt very cathartic to rip the sink out of the counter. It’s easier than you’d think, but still provides that nice Hulk-like feeling of grandiose accomplishment. Even thought I knew I didn’t want to keep the extraneous vanity, I failed to realize that there would be wood floors under the vanity and that, upon removing said vanity, they would not match. Cue tears of frustrations and the bitterness of hindsight.


I proceeded to live with plumbing hanging out of my walls and mismatched floors for a year. I couldn’t find a decent plumber. And I don’t know how to wield a blow torch, which I needed. I don’t know if my difficulties had to do with my gender, my age, or a sincere lack of good plumbers in the area.

Bedroom East View

After 12 long months of waking up to open pipes, I decided a window seat was needed. It solved a number of problems. The unfinished flooring is now hidden, as is the hole in the wall to access the pipes I had sealed off. Now, instead of defunct plumbing, I wake up to Bob Dylan. And books. I can’t imagine either of those things are a surprise. And yes, the hideous gold-plated globe light fixtures are an ever present reminder of my to do list. And my need to win the lottery (in which case I’m jumping ship and heading down to Melbourne, Australia anyway – there’s a concert I need to see).

Bedroom West View

I sleep here. It is so far the only furniture I’ve ever splurged on. And it’s white. I like white because you’re instantly able to see if anything is on there that shouldn’t be (like something with eight legs). Most of my reading and nearly all of my blogging occur in this space.

To see the rest of the renovation photos of my home library, go here. You can also check out these great libraries: Sophisticated Dork’s library, Bookishly Boisterous’s library, or the Literate housewife’s library. Anyone else ever undertaken a home renovation? Julz thought the design was rather minimalist, which made me laugh, because I always thought it was a bit cluttered.

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  • booksaremyfavouriteandbest

    Your reno is stunning. And I’m very, very pleased that your lottery win (think positive thoughts*) will be put toward a worthy cause.

    *I enter ever competition as if I’ve already won. It began when I was 12….and won a car. Really.

    • Rory


      Seriously? You won a car? Didn’t you win a small lottery ticket recently?

      Maybe I should just have you buy a lottery ticket for me and send the winnings to me. I’ll pay all the taxes and what not and give you a commission of course. I have terrible luck.

      • booksaremyfavouriteandbest

        I really did win a car. And exercising my right as the winner, I picked bright yellow (my mum hates yellow but could always find it in a carpark!).

        Yes, I did win a small lottery prize this year. Given the number of competitions I enter (not many at all but the ones I do enter usually have a holiday as the first prize), I have a remarkable amount of luck.

        I will buy a lottery ticket this week and send good Rory/ Cohen vibes as I make the purchase. Let this be the record that if I win big, a ticket to Melbourne is coming your way. *think positive thoughts*.

  • Daphne

    fabulous job & your renovated room is gorgeous. i would never have the nerve to have white bedding or a white headboard, i am just too clumbsy, despite the fact that i don’t eat or drink in my room. i really love that gray on the walls.

    • Rory

      It’s Martha Stewart Zinc. She has really great paint colors, second only to Farrow & Ball. Obviously I have paint colors on the brain.

      I have the tendency to be super neat about my furniture. I can admit I’m a little bit obnoxious about it, to be honest.

  • BermudaOnion

    I’m very impressed with your renovations! You are very talented!

    • Rory

      Thank you!

  • Heather

    Oh my goodness…if that spider ordeal had happened to me, I might have just burned the house down and started over. Holy crap. No. Just no.

    The renovations are lovely!

    • Rory


      The spider thing about did me in. Seriously.

  • DrFrood

    Are you effin’ kidding me?

    Before and after shots could be of completely different spaces. That is stupendous work. Fuuuuudge. Ye of many talents and all that…

    To quote Almost Famous: so this is where the enemy sleeps.

    • Rory

      I’m totally kidding. That isn’t my room, those aren’t my books, and that isn’t the mediocre bench it took me 12 months to design – if that makes you feel better.

      It actually is, of course. It’s mostly due to self-preservation, I was serious about the spiders. Now you know how I spend the large majority of my spare time, in case you didn’t realize exactly how boring I was before.

      *Later edited to add: Thank you, your comment nearly sounded complimentary.

      • DrFrood

        Hey, that was high praise indeed, yo.

        Also, projects aren’t boring and the people who do ’em aren’t boring either. Especially when you turn that particular before into that particular after.

        • Rory

          I wasn’t serious, I did take it as a compliment. Except I can’t believe you called me the enemy, even if you were just quoting Almost Famous.

          Boring or not, I will never live down being called so at the Dylan show. Anyway…

          (I’ll go ahead and point out that I’m also not serious about being the enemy.)

          • DrFrood

            Guy’s probably suffering from some form of imagined addiction to smartphones.

            Some day you’ll probably be able to sleep with them and then the world’s population will plummet.

          • Rory

            Um, women already can.

            And I suspect, when it happens, it will be a more satisfying experience for all involved. Much easier to turn on. (sorry).

          • DrFrood

            To clarify, I meant men and I meant hands free – obviously women can already, but men tend to fetishise technology in a way that women don’t.

            Or maybe men just talk about it more.

            Either way, the iSexRobot can’t be far off.

          • Rory

            I’m sure there’s a prototype somewhere already. My satisfaction comment was more in reference to the idea of something being programmable. Men could get exactly what they want without having to hear anything they don’t.

            And yes, every guy I know is way more into technology than any of the women I know (myself included). Like life is infinitely better and more interesting when you’re able to close your garage with you iPhone or check your email from a concert. I won’t even get in to technology fetishes, I’m still traumatized from misspelling flashlight.

          • DrFrood

            In my experience most men go through life trying not to hear anything they don’t want to hear…To be fair, I don’t think that’s limited by gender..

            OK, the pun, like I said it’s both pretentious and esoteric and not funny as such. It’s also a longwinded explanation, so I’m sorry but bear with me.

            Everything we experience directly comes in the form of perception, which is a by-product of external information filtered through our perceptual framework – 5 senses, architecture of our brains (especially those two), memories, language, beliefs etc. So this means that we can never fully get beyond ourselves to experience things as they actually are.

            And that idea comes from the Critique of Pure Reason by… Immanuel Kant

            And given his entire project was a reaction against Enlightenment values (hence ‘proving’ via a tortuous process that our ability to understand is necessarily strictly limited by the fact of our humanity), a glib critique of the Critique is that he wasn’t engaged in a genuine attempt to understand anything at all, merely coming up with a complex argument to justify a fairly sanctimonious worldview (he was ‘creating room for ‘faith’ and protecting it against the quasi-scientific attitudes of the day). Hence: cant.

            Like I said, not funny as such, and the only way to pick up on the pun is to know all the above, so it’s also pretty unfair.

          • Rory

            It’s not limited to gender.

            I didn’t expect you to tell me and I never would’ve asked – so thank you! Now I’m mad at myself for missing Kant/cant, although by no means would I have gotten the entire meaning. It’s not wholly unexpected that you would pun a philosopher’s name in a challenge that’s supposed to reveal everything you wouldn’t need to know about you. And it’s not massively pretentious, just moderately.

          • DrFrood

            Well, what it reveals about me is that I’m a smartarse.

          • Rory

            I’m not sure that that’s much of a surprise. Unless you mean literally, which wouldn’t be much of a surprise either…

          • DrFrood

            Didn’t you hear? They officially changed the meaning of literally. Apparently it now also literally means figuratively. Can you imagine? The grammar twats collective head will literally explode

          • Rory

            I saw that. Finally proves that you can be wrong so often as to eventually be right.

            I am now right all the time. Literally.

  • Lori

    Thank you for the mention 🙂 I just love before and after’s, makeovers, etc. They are like little miracles and hence inspiring. Your home improvements are beautiful! I adore your simple decor and believe there is elegance in simplicity.

    We’ve just finished a master bathroom renovation which is just the beginning of an entire house. The previous occupant (ex-spouse) had an obsession for wallpaper. Bright, busy wallpaper in every – single – room. Have you met Laura Ashley? Yeah, lots of flowers. It will take awhile.

    I perused your shelves and noticed a Don DiLillo. I’ve been wanting to read one of his books. Which do you recommend?

    Can’t even think about your spider ordeal without shuddering!!

    • Rory

      You’re welcome. I, too, love before and afters (it does give you hope). Lately, when I look at my to-do list and it’s huge, I have to remember I have actually accomplished some things – i.e. the bedroom. There’s still so much to do. Sometimes I shudder at the thought of picking up a paint brush again. Then I look at a wall that so desperately needs to be patched and painted and do so anyway (with a reluctant sigh, no doubt)…

      The previous owners of my house were very into wallpaper too, it’s incredibly satisfying not to have to look at it anymore. And Laura Ashley, that’s just cruel (and southern).

      As for Don DeLillo, definitely White Noise and The Names. I haven’t finished Underworld yet, so far it has been a bit of a struggle. I like it, but it’s not grabbing me.

      I swear (sometimes) spiders are the bane of my existence. I just cannot handle the tiny little eight-legged creatures, it doesn’t matter if they’re half an inch of 4 inches. My brother is quite a bit younger than me (I was 16 and he was 5 or 6) and thought it would be hilarious to take his rose-haired tarantula’s exoskeleton (after she molted) and put it in my shower. Pulling back that curtain probably took 10 years off my life. It’s been over a decade and I still haven’t forgiven him for that.

  • Bonnie (@missbonnie13)

    Spiders plural in your bed? And a spiders nest hatching? Oh my gosh I would have died. I have always said that spiders don’t exactly scare me but I got bit several months ago (for the first time ever) and that was the most traumatizing shit I’ve ever gone through. *shivers*
    You’ve really transformed that space into something beautiful though. I’ve always wanted a window seat. And oh my gosh, I’m so envious of your gorgeous bookshelves. That chair looks supremely comfy too!

    • Rory

      Yes. It was absolutely as disgusting as it sounds. My absolute hatred of the little bastards stems from a bite as well.

      Thank you. It was a space I worked on for a while. I wanted it to be something I liked because I spend so time there. I won’t be so pretentious as to call it my sanctuary or anything, but I am fairly relaxed in there. That says a lot, because while I’m happy enough in most places, I’m rarely relaxed.

      The window seat. It’s lovely to look at, but surprisingly uncomfortable.

  • Lianne @

    Rory, the results of your renovations are amazing! I love the colour you chose for your walls and the overall set up of your bedroom and your library. Very aesthetically stunning. And a window seat 😀 And of course yay for your bookshelves where you can see all of your books 🙂

    The details about the state of your home before the renovations sounded really frightful: urine? termites? spiders in the bed (nightmare of nightmares)? I think I would’ve actually died from the latter.

  • Alice

    You have done such an amazing job with that room!! I actually love the light fixture, I don’t think you should change it, it really adds to the room/gives it character.

    I have major room envy right here, I think you’ve a talent for interior design – I never get things like this to work out.

    • Rory

      I don’t exactly mind the light fixtures, but up close they are scratched and nicked – so they’ve seen better days. That being said, they will be there for the foreseeable future.

      Thanks. I’m working on finished up the library next. I’m considering doing a similar post for that one. Assuming everything works out…

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